Listen to Beside the Seaside – a nostalgic sound portrait of the Golden Age of UK holidays

Available to listen to now until September 1st is a jolly celebration of the British seaside in all its glory, a compilation of seaside-related material from the BBC Sound Archive.

Seaside entertainer Tony Lidington takes a trip to Brighton for BBC Radio 4 Extra and reflects how this city has inspired a wealth of seaside memories captured in the BBC Sound Archive.

Tony came to Brighton in the eighties as a student and set up his own Pierrot Troupe, The Pierroters, named after the rotting West Pier which was the subject of a Kaleidoscope feature made in 1995.

There are first hand memories of what it was like to go on a seaside holiday between the wars in a programme called ‘Sand Between the Toes’ made in 1984.

Tony meets Max Tyler, an expert on the Fol De Rols, and he and Tony hear them perform in an extraordinary piece of archive from 1937 when four of the shows hundreds of miles apart were brought together live by the magic of wireless.

There are also insights into Brighton’s very own Cheeky Chappie as Tony visits a Fish and Chip Shop in Brighton where the Max Miller Society has set up a museum.

‘Casting Shadows’ a wonderfully evocative play by Mark Burgess conjures up an imaginary meeting between the actor Laurence Oliver, playwright Terence Rattigan and Brighton’s famous seaside entertainer, Max Miller. Roy Hudd headlines as Miller.

Gavin Henderson, president of the National Piers Society, reveals that seaside piers were initially places of sophistication, almost the arts centres of their day, and Rachel Clark of the West Pier Trust looks to the future and the plans to create a new vertical Pier on Brighton seafront.

Tony celebrates the Great Days of the West Pier in his 1995 Archive Hour programme ‘Oh What a Lovely Pier!’ with contributions from the late Corin Redgrave among others.

The programmes featured within ‘4 Extra at the British Seaside’ in chronological order, with approximate timings are:
Pierrotters on Tour (from Kaleidoscope) – 8 minutes

Sand Between the Toes – Memories of Seaside holidays between the wars (1984) – 27 minutes

Casting Shadows, a play by Mark Burgess, starring Roy Hudd – 44 minutes

Oh What a Lovely Pier! (Archive Hour from 1995) – 56 minutes

This fascinating celebration can be heard at the BBC Sounds site until September 1st.


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